She Turned Me into a Newt 40

I have noticed a strange tendency among some of the democratic party faithful following their recent victory.  Their hearts are filled with long-held grievances and lingering suspicions resulting in an inability to move forward as one nation, working with republicans to accomplish our many challenging tasks.  Ironically enough, the main theme of Barack’s candidacy.

I struggled to put the hysteria into words until I remembered this clip from Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

The one Achilles Heel of each new majority is overreach.  A secondary risk can be focusing on acrimony and recrimination rather than healing the wounds of a nation.  we are in a precarious position right now that an extended witch hunt could do much to make worse.

That’s not to say we do nothing, though.

We can put systems into place to ensure similar periods of greed and unaccountability and paranoia are avoided in the future, but separating the guilty from the innocent after a century of imperialistic policies is an impossible task for us today.  We must avoid the temptation to hold the modern republican party accountable for the crimes of both parties over multiple generations.

It may feel like justice, but it isn’t.  America can have revenge or renaissance, but we can’t have both.

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40 thoughts on “She Turned Me into a Newt

  • failure to communicate

    “I got better…” -Monty Python

    But to your points about looking forward and singing Kumbaya:

    People died (a lot!)
    People were forever wounded (a lot more)
    People are in Gitmo and (?)
    People lost homes, and jobs and reputations, and, and

    for all those reasons but also because America is ruled by laws
    Laws were broken. Elected officials took oaths to uphold those laws. It is not about revenge.
    It is about laws of the USA.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      OK. But where do we start when we start holding people accountable? Should we go ahead and take Clinton down for all the things he did in office such as destroying our manufacturing base and escalating the war on drugs? How about the democratic congress men and women who were complicit in these crimes by looking away? Where do the trials stop?

      • debbiedoesnothing

        You’re wallowing in another false equivalency.

        Clinton didn’t spend almost a trillion dollars in Iraq or send our men and women over there to be killed and maimed, not to mention thousands of Iraqi civilians. Clinton didn’t trample all over the Constitution. He didn’t advocate torture. He didn’t appoint incompetent cronies to important positions like Attorney General or the Supreme Court (remember Harriet Miers?)

        When Clinton was president, FEMA actually functioned better in a crisis. Remember Katrina?

        We have to go after those bozos to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we respect our own Constitution and we respect international law.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          And 800,000 Rwandans died and 150,00 East Timorians. There is no false equivalency when it comes to the destructive power of the US government as its been practiced for at least a century, under republicans and democrats alike.

      • Lux Umbra Dei

        Jason, I have to admit you have a good mind for the defense. I can imagine you making this kind of argument before a jury. “My client may be guilty, but what about the judge and prosecutor? They are surely guilty of peccadillos also! Why should justice start with my client!? Many guilty have gone free since the Australopithicenes! If any go free, all must go free! Surely we can agree on that principle!

        Ladies and gentlemen, you have no choice in good conscience but to acquit my client, even though he may indeed have burned down the local orphanage and the eldercare center to boot. No you must release him and as soon as possible vote him back into office as our next mayor! No witchhunts in our fair village!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          No, the defense is:

          “Surely you are not suggesting we prosecute my client for crimes that were not crimes when faced by other men in similar circumstances? If we are to prosecute my client, why not then prosecute the Congress that gave him the authority and the Nation that gave him the charge?”

          This is also Bush administration officials are actually guilty of specific offenses that haven’t been given legal cover by Congress no matter how despicable we all find them to be now. Some of their crimes may also be incompetence vice malice, which also complicates getting an indictment let alone a conviction.

          I am merely suggesting in my defense that we may be talking about things that aren’t specifically illegal based on statute and precedent. I don’t think we should use those two measures alone when determining justice, but it is the system we inherited.

  • Father OKC

    Teddy-JEM, you need to pay close attention to the end of the “Burn the Witch” scene. After the specious reasoning process the knight leads the peasants through, they place the witch on the scales and find that she does indeed weigh more than the duck, and therefore she should be burned as a witch. She says with resignation, “It’s a fair cop.”

    What that means in context to your post is that while we need to work with reasonable Republicans (the few that are left), we also need to pursue justice in re: the ones (on both sides of the aisle) who have aided and abetted the criminal actions of the current administration. Whether that takes the form of war crimes trials or Truth and Reconciliation hearings, we cannot turn our backs on justice. Too many people have died as a result of the nation’s course over the last eight years.

    She really did turn him into a newt, but he got better.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think an Obama Justice Department should quietly look at all the evidence and then present such evidence in a court of law using tried and true methods of prosecution. If no such evidence exists, liberals need to let this one go. As I mentioned above, once we start naming witches, where does it end? There is plenty of guilt to go around, not the least of which is the American voter for not paying attention for 40 years.

  • Lux Umbra Dei

    Jason, I might respectfully disagree. There might be very good reasons, from reaffirming civics textbook verities to our children, to reaffirming the rule of law, to denying the principle of exigencies trumping the law, to denying the politicization of our government and state/party alliances in the perversion of justice, to honoring treaty commitments and commitments to international law and standards of civilized behavior.

    All of these might be reasons for attempting to not have an eight year interlude of lawlessness stand like 8 black pages in the history of our nation. I think you want to cordon off the sepsis; I want to drain it.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Again, I am not advocating not learning a lesson from all this, but there is a good chance that nothing they did was illegal. So, do we still look for witches to burn or ensure that what was done IS illegal from now on? I am not sure where the right answer lies, but I trust our new president to find the right balance.

      • Progressive Party

        “..Again, I am not advocating not learning a lesson from all this, but there is a good chance that nothing they did was illegal..”

        and the basis for your claim here is what? or are you just presenting a line of thought that considers that there is nothing to learn from history. I’d like you to try that out on Iraq’s people or the politicization of the DOJ or the ignoring of the rule of law to honor the will of congress in providing testimony and documents?

        Your point is that violators are expected and we, the people, will by default and a lack of courage tolerate the abuses.

        Unless you process some imperical knowledge that the public doesn’t know about; I’d suggest that you consider the the rule of law places no one above the law. The Bushies trashed this cannon of law and abused their power! nothing would please me more than a true investigation of the facts and have the violators sit their asses in jail!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I am saying that we have codified many things that are heinous but not illegal.

          As horrible as this war was, it was not illegal based on our country’s laws and institutions. We would have to start with prosecuting every congress person who voted for the war, because that is where the illegality began.

          So, do we take Clinton to court next for failing to respond to Rwanda and East Timor? What about his economic policies that killed the middle class every bit as much as the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? How about all the men and women who enabled Reagan’s policies? How about Carter for failing to fix our energy problem? Johnson for bombing the crap out Vietnam?

          By all means, the Justice Department should look into each and every allegation of wrong doing, but at the end of the day, they may have done nothing illegal that can be prosecuted in an actual court of law.

          That doesn’t make it right, but it does acknowledge our historically shoddy adherence to our founding documents.

          • debbiedoesnothing

            I think we need to prosecute the hell out of the Bushies just so people like you will wake up and smell the coffee. What the other people you’ve named have done isn’t anywhere close to what the Bushies have done.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Your inability to move on will hinder our president’s ability to achieve his goals. In the absence of overwhelming evidence, don’t expect your thirst for blood to be sated by an Obama administration.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: You know nothing about me or what my journey has been. You substitute assumptions for logic and your argument falls apart from there.

          • debbiedoesnothing

            I’m basing my responses entirely on what you wrote here. For the purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter who you think you are – what matters is what you say.

            American bombs and American troops did not kill or Rwandans or East Timorians. It’s not our job to police the rest of the world. Ideally, we would step in to help in a crisis. But so would the British, the French, the Germans, the Australians, etc. Because of the invasion of Iraq,

            We are the ones who killed Iraqis. We invaded a sovereign nation that was not a threat to us, based on cherry-picked intelligence and lies. We put ourselves at greater risk by giving al Qaeda a powerful recruitment tool.

            Our military is now stretched so thin that we don’t even have the option of helping in Sudan or other hot spots. And our troops are suffering in Afghanistan and we’re bombing civilians there because we don’t have the manpower to fight the war we should be fighting.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Every American who didn’t vote or didn’t hold their representatives accountable is responsible for Iraq. Every American, 70% of them, who called for the invasion is responsible. Don’t stand here and rewrite history in order to absolve the country of its responsibility for our government’s actions. It is liberals like yourself that will make Obama’s job much harder.

          • debbiedoesnothing

            Every American who didn’t vote or didn’t hold their representatives accountable is responsible for Iraq.

            You just won my argument for me. Pressuring Congress to conduct hearings about the crimes and misdemeanors of the administration is all about holding them accountable.

            Obviously, I never voted for Bush. No liberal voted for Bush. Maybe it’s time YOU hold yourself accountable for the last 8 years.

            Is that why you’re so afraid to put those people on trial? Because it means you’ll have to face your own responsibility for what happened?

            You can keep ranting if you want, but as far as I’m concerned, the debate is over. You proved my point.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Again, you know nothing of me. If you bothered to look at any of my writing, you would know I only recently joined the republican party in order to aid in its transition to useful opposition vice useless obstruction.

            I never said we should fail to investigate possible crimes. What I said was we should maintain a sense of propriety and logic in the process, one free of ideology or vengeance. We should keep an historical perspective against past misdeeds by those we sent to Washington and then promptly stopped paying attention as judge actions we abhor but have never done anything to stop for at least the last 40 years and perhaps for much of our nation’s history.

            Who gets the blame for how we treated Native Americans? Who is free from sin?

            The Clinton administration created the Prison Industrial Complex in 1994 to prove they were tough on crime, forgetting that it was shared prosperity that lowered crime rates not locking up black kids for dime bags. Ted Kennedy gave us Ronald Reagan when he took a sitting president to the convention. Johnson brought us both equal rights and an imperialistic war in Vietnam with an unequal draft.

            Every administration in America’s history has made their mistakes, their hands dripping with blood and mouths full of excuses. I choose a bit longer view than your many comments seem to indicate you are willing to take.

          • debbiedoesnothing

            WTF is with the “you know nothing of me” bullshit? Who cares??? This debate is not about YOU.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            This debate on this blog is about me or, rather, about your mistaken opinions about me which lead you to make mistaken opinions about others who aren’t on your side.

            You keep making ad hominem personal attacks and then say it isn’t about me? You might want to read back over you what you have said before trying to end a debate with that sort of rejoiner.

          • debbiedoesnothing

            I haven’t made one single attack on YOU personally. I attacked your statements. Big difference, and if you don’t know the difference, that’s your problem.

            But since I’m being accused of it anyway, here goes. I’m going to attack you now:

            Jason, you’re an ignorant twit. I didn’t think that when I started reading and responding to this discussion. You convinced me. Congratulations. You’re very persuasive.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I never once called you a name and merely tried to explain why you misunderstood my argument. You got more and more combative throughout the exchange to the point that you called me an ignorant twit without ever once addressing my actual comments.

            You paint with a very broad ideological brush. You see “republican” and read evil. You hear a contrary opinion and think: Battle! I suggest that following Obama’s example as the democratic majority takes charge and leave the witch hunts for another day and you castigate me as an appeaser who must own all of the neocons disastrous policies.

            No worries. You can take from this exchange what you will. Even that I am simply another idiot republican twit. That would be a shame, because I think framing and positioning is going to be very important to an Obama administration getting everything done that it needs to accomplish.

            His liberal supporters finding a new way to speak to conservatives will be essential tot he long-term success of our country. That is my only argument, as banal and ill-informed you find it to be.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: The civilians aren’t being bombed because the troops are stretched thin. They are being bombed because our bombs aren’t as smart as our defense contractors would like them to be. Time for the American people to take a little ownership of their own culpability for the American Military Empire.

  • brantlamb

    The problems with not nailing the people that did this shit to us is that they will be even more available to do it to us again, whereas if their bloodied heads are displayed on pikes it will give them permanent pause and give people who might like to emulate them at least temporary pause. If Nixon had actually been made to pay the piper for the tune that he called, perhaps Reagan, Bush Sr. and JUNIOR wouldn’t have been nearly as eager to orchestrate their music.

    • Lux Umbra Dei

      A very good point. As the democrats move into power the republicans and their principal actors become the government-in-exile, ready to retake the controls if opportunity should present itself. Let’s, at the minimum, purge that waiting room of felons.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I am not disagreeing that we should certainly pursue all lines of investigation, but at the end of the day, what was done may have been legal, no matter how immoral or distasteful or downright wrong most of us find those actions to be.

      By precedent and by law, we have enabled some fairly brutal policies in this country. Pretending that the neoconservatives was the first group of criminals in charge is a real stretch. For all his goodness, Johnson still escalated an illegal and immoral war, killing millions of Vietnamese. A war started, or at least approved of, by JFK.

      So, who gets tossed on the bonfire first? Bush or Pelosi?

  • brantlamb

    The problems with not nailing the people that did this shit to us is that they will be even more available to do it to us again, whereas if their bloodied heads are displayed on pikes it will give them permanent pause and give people who might like to emulate them at least temporary pause. If Nixon had actually been made to pay the piper for the tune that he called, perhaps Reagan, Bush Sr. and JUNIOR wouldn’t have been nearly as eager to orchestrate their music.

  • brantlamb

    The problems with not nailing the people that did this shit to us is that they will be even more available to do it to us again, whereas if their bloodied heads are displayed on pikes it will give them permanent pause and give people who might like to emulate them at least temporary pause. If Nixon had actually been made to pay the piper for the tune that he called, perhaps Reagan, Bush Sr. and JUNIOR wouldn’t have been nearly as eager to orchestrate their music.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      And it was democratic sleazebags victimizing us before that as Kennedy and Johnson escalated the Vietnam war and sent millions of young men to jungles of southeast Asia.

      The entire 20th Century was one long string of being victimized, it’s just that some democratic presidents helped move us toward the day that we could elect Obama. That doesn’t make them any less guilty.

      Despite the New Deal, FDR still interned hundreds of thousands of Japanese and German citizens.

      • Father OKC

        Jason, you keep invoking the “Democrats did it too” meme as a justification for less than arduous pursuit of the law. You realize that this is a bankrupt position, right?

        It harkens back to the old “Awww, ma – all the kids in my class are doing it – why can’t I?” line that didn’t work with your parents, and shouldn’t work with anyone who takes seriously the ideal that law has to be equally applied to mean anything.

        As horrible as this war was, it was not illegal based on our country’s laws and institutions.

        It was if the reasons presented as justification for the AUMF were false.

        So, do we take Clinton to court next for failing to respond to Rwanda and East Timor?

        As for Clinton and Rwanda, you compare trying Congressmen who voted for the unjustified Iraq war, or trying the administration officials who fabricated the evidence presented to Congress to evince their votes, with trying a President for failing to start a war of humanitarian intervention. Apples, meet orange.

        In any case, the US did not have boots on the ground to implement any kind of intervention in Rwanda. The blame ultimately lies with Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, who was in charge of the Belgian peacekeeping force and who ordered them to take no military action. Now if you’d like to see him brought up on some kind of charge of negligence, I’d go for that.

        If you really want to see FDR, LBJ, and Kennedy brought up on charges, if that’s what it would take for you to assent to applying the law to living persons, then by all means let’s dig up their rotting carcasses and go for it.

        As for whether the administration has committed any really illegal acts, we can just start with the felony violations of the provisions of FISA that Bush admitted to on national television, and proceed from there to nasty little acts like kidnapping, torture, and murder; all of which are illegal whether an AUMF was approved by Congress or not.

        You served in the Navy just like I did; you swore to protect and defend the Constitution. Why be less than zealous concerning its willful disregard for the last eight years? A sleazebag is a sleazebag, no matter which side of the aisle or which branch of government it inhabits.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I am invoking historical context. I am saying that a witch hunt, right now, is a luxury we cannot afford. I am saying that a witch hunt, right now, would sweep up the guilty and innocent and alike. I am saying that we can’t hold a single generation of leaders fully accountable for crimes that stretch back at leas to the end of World War II, if not beyond.

          I am NOT saying that we shouldn’t investigate and see where the investigations lead us, but the howls for blood I have been hearing have been for “republicans” not for those handful of republican officials who may have committed crimes. I have no problem with a sober and sane look at the evidence, with our “innocent until proven guilty” still intact.

          I am calling for democrats to NOT hold rank and file voters accountable for being duped. I am saying that historically we have never been a nation that stays to the rule of law, democrat and republican alike, so to pretend that republicans are “evil” while democrats are simply “misunderstood” will lead to witch hunts and not trials.

          See the difference?

  • Al in Austex

    Jason ,
    If you can find the NPR/ Terry Gross interview
    on “Fresh Air ” when she interviewed David Iglesias- its worth the effort -as Mr Iglesias speaks directly to this point. Mr Iglesias ( former US Attorney -fired by turdblossom – ) states in the interview -that he no longer is a member of the GOP -he is member of the “Rule of Law ” party.
    We need all prosecutions of every criminal associated with gwb 43 – in my assesment it would help build a governing coalition -by exposing and punishing those that condoned such unAmerican acts as torture. Let the General Tagueba report concerning abu Gharib be released .
    Maybe we need a Truth & Reconciliation Commission modeled after South Africa – But we for sure need a return to the rule of law ..

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think that Barack has it right. The Justice Department will quietly investigate the evidence and see if it leads to indictments. If it does, then we can trials and prosecutions. If at the end of the day, no evidence of law-breaking is found, as I suspect it won’t be, then we must change the laws to ensure we don’t find ourselves in the same position.

      I am simply reminding people that republicans and democrats alike have been treating the Constitution like a drunk prom date since before the ink was dry on the preamble. Hell, where are all the tears for the Native Americans who died by the hundreds of thousands at the order of American presidents both democrat and republican.

      I don’t believe that a witch hunt for “republcians” to throw on a national bonfire of recrimination is the best possible use for the political capital Obama has right now.

      • Lux Umbra Dei

        I really should allow you the last word on your own blog, but the academic in me can’t allow an able mind I respect like yours to rest its case on a faulty argument!

        It simply is not an argument to say that because unrectified injustice has existed in the past, that no future injustice can, in principle, be rectified. You invoke a “where do we start?” reductio that would have any legal action impossible. A jaywalking ticket in Bayonne could be defended using your logic, much less impeachable offenses by a rogue administration.

        No quibbles with the rest of your position, except the rhetorical use of “witchhunt”, “bonfires”, etc..

        I won’t reply to any further sallies so you can indeed have the last word!


        • Jason Everett Miller

          We should investigate for possible crimes but accept the fact many may very well be legal by our current laws, no matter how abhorrent we find them to be in practice.

          No matter how carefully such a process advances, 48% of the country who didn’t vote for Barack plus a good percentage of the 36% who didn’t vote at all would view it as a witch hunt. They will have the same reaction as democrats did to the Clinton trial.

          I am not commenting on how democrats view it. I understand the position well and think had we kept every president since Nixon accountable to their oath not a single one should have made it out of office. Including Bill Clinton for reasons that have nothing to do with a blow job.

          If we allow the Justice Department to examine all the requisite documents and statutes in order to seek an indictment in federal court, I am all for that and believe Barack can sell the results to conservatives. But if the process becomes the left equivalent of the Clinton fiasco, it will only ensure we spend Barack’s entire first term engaged in bitter, partisan battles.

          I am trying to see this through pragmatic eyes.